J.J. Hardy still looking to get it going at the plate

Should Orioles fans be concerned about J.J. Hardy?

Maybe a little. He is batting just .192 with one multi-hit effort through 26 games after going 0-for-3 last night. His on-base percentage is just .236 and his OPS is only .559.

Hardy is batting .162 against right-handed pitching and his average has been over .200 after only six of the team’s 26 games.

Plus, this continues a run of Hardy’s stats trending downward since his first season with the club in 2011. Starting then, his average has gone from .269 to .238 last year and now .192. His OBP has gone from .310 to .282 to .236 and his OPS from .801 to .671 to .559.

A criticism heard often is that he stands too far from the plate and it creates problems for him in getting to pitches on the outer half.

Maybe Hardy either doesn’t feel that is an issue or is not comfortable changing because he remains a hitter that stands well off the plate. It should be pointed out that he was standing in the same spot in 2011 when he batted .269 with 30 homers and 80 RBIs and his career average is .257.

He does seem to have a penchant for getting a big hit and even with a sub-.200 average, he has 14 RBIs and that is fourth-best on the team.

Also, April is statistically the worst month of his career. He hit .184 last April with only six RBIs and has a career .217 average this month with an OPS of .641. He also is a better hitter in his career in the second half than the first.

All of this, plus the fact that at 30 he is pretty much in the prime of his career, lend one to think better days are ahead for him and soon.

We all know how good he is on defense and what he means to this club on the field and in the clubhouse. He is a team leader and in July 2011, was signed to a contract that runs through 2014.

Hardy is definitely struggling right now and it stands out more on nights when the O’s offense gets shut down like last night than maybe it did during the four-game series in Oakland where the club scored 28 runs.

But are Hardy’s struggles temporary or part of a bigger issue?

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